Researchers found a link between body mass index (BMI) and suicidal thoughts, but not suicide attempts in people with bipolar disorder (BD) according to a recent study. Serum lipid levels, however, have no connection to suicidal thoughts or attempts. The researchers published their findings in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

People with BD have an increased risk for autoimmune diseases, obesity, and metabolic issues associated with weight such as diabetes and heart disease.

Lipid markers are a biomarker for metabolic syndrome and may play a role in the pathogenesis of suicide, but results from previous studies have varied. The researchers analyzed the relationship between metabolic syndrome and people with BD, the influence of weight on suicidal thoughts and behavior, and whether serum lipid levels would serve as biomarkers for suicidality in people with BD.


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The researchers analyzed data from 215 individuals participating in an ongoing study exploring genetic factors and lifestyle in relation to BD. Patients completed a self-assessment for depression as well as bloodwork, cognitive testing, and vitals.

The researchers found no relationship between metabolic syndrome and suicide attempts. They did find higher lifetime suicidal ideation in individuals with normal weight compared with those classified as overweight. They found no correlation between the individual serum lipid values and suicidal thoughts or attempts.

Of the limitations, the researchers stated they did not control for medication use and they did not give a standardized suicide assessment.

“Further research on this topic is needed to investigate a possible influence of obesity-inducing medication,” the researchers conclude.

“Furthermore, this study could support the previous findings regarding the insufficient association of serum lipid levels on suicidality. In view of the present results, special attention should be paid to BMI values rather than [metabolic syndrome] or lipid values when treating bipolar individuals with suicidality.”

Reference

Stenzel C, Dalkner N, Unterrainer HF, et al. Effects of metabolic syndrome and obesity on suicidality in individuals with bipolar disorder. Published online May 14, 2022. J Affect Disord. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2022.05.062